What I Wish I Knew Before My First Race

When it comes to race weekends, I’m pretty superstitious and have a tried and true routine.  The Love Run half marathon is upon us.  It’s crazy that I will be doing my first race of 2017.   Here is my list of race weekend tips:
Hydration:

Hydration leading up to race weekend is crucial: especially the day prior, during, and post-race.  I start increasing my water intake 3 days before with close to 90 ounces as possible.  Hydration doesn’t have to be straight up plain water.  I like to mix in lemon, coconut water, electrolyte tabs such as NUUN®, kombucha (I’m obsessed with all things booch), sparkling waters and teas.  I shoot to drink 100 ounces the day before a race.  Typically, I drink half of my body weight which is 60/70 oz daily.  The morning of a race I try to drink 16 ounces and plan out hydration stops along the course.  Most races have water stops along the course but if you are wearing a hydration pack or belt, make note when to drink.  It’s always better to hydrate early in the race then waiting until you feel thirsty.  Dehydration is already starting to settle in at that point.

Plan what you need for race day:

The last thing you want to do is be at the starting line and thinking “omg, I forgot blank!”  It’s always better to be prepared.  Make sure you have everything you need for the race at least 2 days prior so in the event.   If you need something you could grab it at the race expo or stop at your favorite store.

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  • Phone:  Make sure it is charged before you leave the house.  Also turn off any unneeded notifications and put on low power mode, you’ll thank me later. 😉  I can’t tell you how many times I was at a finish line with 5% left trying to find my friends and family, check my time, and take a selfie.  Don’t forget you arm band!
  • Headphones:  If they are wireless, make sure they are charged.  And fitness tracker.
  • Hydration belt or pack: Have your pack or bottles ready to fill in the morning or the night before.  I know some friends who put in electrolytes tabs in their bottles, not something I do but also a great option.
  • Energy gels:. Some races provide these along the course but my best tip is to stick with what you are used to training with.  The last thing is you want is a stomach ache and it ruin your race.
  • Make sure you have your ID, cash, or cards for post-race drink, brunch, or race gear. Don’t forget your house keys!  Many races have bag check options!
  • Bib with 4 safety pins, tracker on your shoe secured in your laces, if needed.  You get these at the race expo.
  • Lay out race outfit and take a flat runner picture to post on social media.  #flatrunner You always want to wear something that has been tried and true for race day.  The worst thing is when you have on an ill-fitting shirt or it rubs the wrong way, another trust me on this.  Also, wear layers.  The start may be freezing and then warm up by the end, so I always wear layers that I can roll up my sleeves or throw away.  Sometimes races give back and donate any thrown away clothing.  Bring gloves or ear warmers and you can always put on your racing belt.  Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, tissues, chapstick and sunscreen!  If there’s a chance of rain get a poncho.
  • NEVER wear new shoes on race day.  Your feet are everything in a race and I’ve had countless blisters from wearing shoes that were not broken in properly.  And lost some toenails.  My suggestion is to get new sneakers at least one month prior to race day to ensure you break them in.  Same thing with socks.  Wear a pair that you have worn before.

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FOOD:

My favorite part of racing is the food!  I usually stick to clean carbs like whole wheat pasta, chickpea pastas, veggie pastas (zoodles! spaghetti squash!) but when it’s race weekend, I go all out!  Sometimes a few of us meet up for a pasta party after the expo at a restaurant nearby.  It’s always fun to catch up and just relax.  I try to carb up the whole day prior to race day.

The morning of your race is super important to eat before you leave the house.  Again, don’t try anything new so it won’t affect you badly.  My go-to is Eziekel™ toast with almond or peanut butter topped with banana, chia seeds, and unsweetened coconut shavings.  Even though I have done a ton of races, I always have pre-race jitters and lose my appetite.  This toast combo is quick, easy, and portable (in case you bring it on the go).  Avocado and a lightly fried egg on toast would another tasty combo or cereal.  You want a good combo of carbs, healthy fats, and protein for race fuel.  Again, this is just what works for me and I have friends that don’t eat at all (I used to not eat) or eat a huge breakfast.  And don’t forget COFFEE!  I usually drink one coffee at home and bring another, what can I say?! #coffeeaddict!  You’ll want the energy.

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You can’t forget to make post-race plans!  I love going to brunch with friends after a race.  It’s always good to have a place planned prior and if possible to make a reservation.  Especially if it’s close to the race location since everyone will flock there and will be a long wait.  #rungry!

Plan how you are getting to the race:

I always figure out how to I’m getting to and from the race.  I like to get to the starting line early to avoid added anxiety.  Getting dropped off or Uber™/Lyft™ is usually the best bet, you won’t need to worry about parking.  If you are parking, know where the closest lots are located – hopefully the start and finish are at the same location to make it easier.  By getting there early you will have enough time to check any bags, hit up that port-a-potty, meet up with friends, get in your corral, and get your mind right.

Drop dat beat:

Music is a HUGE factor for me, it can make or break a race.  You know you have that one, or a few, power songs that when you hear if gets you fired up.  I use Spotify™ or Pandora™ to get in the zone.  Definitely try out your mixes before race day.  It’s the worst when a power song comes on at mile 2 and you’re on fire then mile 11, the struggle is real and wish that song was playing then.  Sometimes the service can be disrupted due to the amount of people at races.  So I always start my playlist when the gun goes off for the elite runners to ensure it works.

Expo/race packet pick up:

Find out when and where the expo is to ensure you have everything you need.  You will need your ID and some races allow you pick up others packets as well, in case they can’t get there.  You can check out new products or brands, get race branded items, pick up any last-minute things that you need, sign up for other races, change your corral, sign up for pace groups, etc.

Runner tracking:

Set up run tracking so all your peeps know your deets.  You can find this in emails from the race company and forward.  I get my texts on my Fitbit™ and can read messages from my friends and family along the course.  They send how I’m pacing or motivation, thanks coach ;).  This also helps your peeps know when you are finished to go find you!

Erbody get yo roll on:

Stretch, foam roll, and stretch some mo!  The day before my race was beautiful in Philly and it was too nice to stay inside.  I usually don’t run the day before a race, even though my training plans say to.  However, I went for a 2 mile shake out run and it took everything to not go fast or far.  I stretched and foam rolled for almost an hour one Friday and again prior and post Saturday’s run.  I’ll stretch one more time before bed and again tomorrow at home and at the starting line.  And then a ton after!

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Sleep:

Try to get a good night’s sleep two days before.  With pre-race jitters may make it difficult to sleep the night before.  Set several alarms!!  My biggest fear and probably why I can’t sleep is I’m afraid of over-sleeping!

Check the weather:

I have been literally stalking the weather hoping for no rain!  I’ve done races in the rain and it was terrible.  The only good thing was that I ran faster to get finished.

Most of all, have fun and enjoy every moment of the race.  You trained hard.  You are ready!  If this is your first race, don’t have expectations and just roll with it.  If it’s your 9th half marathon, don’t have expectations and just roll with it.  As much as I would love to chase down my goal time, I’m going into the race weekend with no expectations, just finish – something different for me.  I always put pressure on myself to go after a pace goal and then beat myself up when I don’t hit it.  Especially if it’s a bad time from the previous year.  Remember each race is different with different factors.  Maybe this year it was windy AF and last year was perfect running conditions.  Just run your race and don’t compare yourself to others.

Good luck and I’ll see you at the finish line!

What is your routine before a race?

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